Q. CB Zech McPhearson has really kind of showed up, at least to us, getting his hands on the football. What have you seen from him early in camp? (John McMullen)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, Zech is doing a good job. He’s taking the coaching points and applying them on the field day-to-day. A lot of times, that’s hard for rookies, especially out there. There is a lot going on with those guys.
But he’s improving every day, just like the entire group is. We’re excited about all those guys.
Q. Zech came out of an offensive-minded conference. When you’re scouting guys like that coming out of college, is it tough? (Paul Domowitch)
JONATHAN GANNON: No, because I think we look for – first of all, character is the first thing, and he had the character that we’re looking for and then he had the skillset that we’re looking for.
So, everybody plays a different brand of ball in college, it seems. Our scouts do a really good job identifying, ‘Hey, talking with the coaches is a collaborative effort. What does this guy have to have in his makeup and in his skillset that will allow him to be successful coming to the Philadelphia Eagles?’ And I think our personnel side has done a really good job with that.
Q. What’s the challenge for LB Davion Taylor now, a kid who hasn’t played a ton of football. Until he gets back, what’s the challenge for him? (Reuben Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, just staying mentally engaged, which he’s 100% mentally engaged. Meets with [Linebackers] Coach [Nick] Rallis every morning on his own. That’s good to see because we know that he loves ball.
But the challenge is – the best learning we feel is reps out there and in pre-season games. I truly feel like, you know, you can walk it, talk it, you can show it in the meeting room, but until they get on the grass and perform and honestly make mistakes, that’s the best form of learning.
When they make a mistake, ‘All right, coaches get with them. Here is why you made that mistake. Tell me about your thought process,’ and they kind of self-correct.
And that’s what we like to see. All of our guys have done a really good job, in my opinion, of when we make a mistake, that we’re correcting so we’re getting better. And that goes with, too – If the guy in front of you makes a mistake and the coach corrects it, when you go out there, you really don’t want to make that same mistake.
We’re doing a good job – coaches are doing a really good job with that.
Q. We’ve seen DT Milton Williams now inside and outside now quite a bit. What are the advantages at each spot for him? (Dave Zangaro)
JONATHAN GANNON: I would think, Dave, to answer that – I said it I think in the spring – was motor and mean. The advantages are we get it accentuate his skillset a little bit, and it’s a little bit matchup driven. So, we want to see him play on the center, play on guards, play on tackles, and we are still kind of figuring out – all of our guys, but especially Milton, we’re figuring out what best suits him so he can be successful.
Q. When you’re going through the process of evaluating the depth chart, maybe changes you want to make going into practice, is there a time when you’re trying to get out of the day-to-day and take a step back and look at the big picture, and say, ‘Hey, we’re a week in now, these are the changes we want to make’? (Bo Wulf)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, as a coaching staff, we have a pretty tight plan of when we do those things. As far as myself, I’ll wait four days and then take a look at all four days on our day off, and then talk with the position coaches about, ‘Hey, this was our plan. Let’s stick with the plan or let’s change the plan.’
So, it’s not just acute day-to-day; it’s chronic over the long-term. We know however many days we got to get ready to actually play a game. Eight days to play a pre-season game, and then, ultimately, week one. But they do have some time before that needs to happen.
Q. What’s it like to have someone like DE Brandon Graham, who after 12 years still has all this energy for every single practice? (Merrill Reese)
JONATHAN GANNON: He’s been a joy to be around. He’s one of those guys, as a vet, that’s played at a high level that you want on your defense. His energy is infectious, and it bleeds into the whole room. That whole room does a really good job with their energy, as you guys see that.
But we know that – our defense knows that we want to play a certain way, and day one, I think I talked to him – I’m not a big sign guy, a big saying guy. I don’t give motivational speeches, but the one thing we put up was, ‘Sustain positive enthusiasm.’ Anybody can go do it for a day, but can you do over four days, eight days, six weeks, eight weeks. They responded to that challenge very well.
Q. Good versatility is so important, you’ve seen it in the NFL over the last couple of decades with safeties. Where does someone like S K’Von Wallace, who’s spent a lot more time closer to the line in college, where does he fit in, in terms of that role? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, he’s done a really good job. His skillset, even though he played that in college, he’s proven that he can play in the deep part of the field. He’s doing a really good job. All our safeties are doing a really good job with understanding how they fit within the call, and then understanding how they can play free and make some plays.
So, you know, K’Von is doing a really good job of what we’re asking him executing.
Q. As far as figuring out what guys can do, it looked like yesterday you had DE Joe Ostman and DE Genard Avery playing in, backing off the linebacker, covering guys. Is that – How do you see their skill sets fitting in here? (Ed Kracz)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, like I said a week ago or whatever, we’re still defining that role. And a lot of times, you guys will see, we put those guys on purpose in tough spots. So, ‘Okay, this guy does this, this and this really well. Okay. We need to improve this and this, so let’s make sure we put him in those spots.’
So, I think those guys are doing a really good job with what we’re asking them to do, and you see they’re functioning at a high level right now.
Q. Linebackers as a whole, especially Mike and Will, it seems like they’re rotating a lot there, getting people bursting reps. What have you learned about that group? (John McMullen)
JONATHAN GANNON: That they can all play together. One of the reasons why we do that is there is a comfort zone with certain guys that when they look next to them, they know who is going to be next to them, and right now we do not want them in that comfort zone.
Two reasons is everybody has to be able to think and communicate. Second reason is in a game when somebody gets hurt, you’re not have a comfort zone all the time. So that’s why we do that, is to see the different combinations. ‘Hey, this guy is playing Mike this period, then he goes and plays Will, but he’s playing Will with this Mike, and the next period he’s playing Will with this other Mike.’
So that’s planned out and we do that on purpose.
Q. Do you want to have a three-down linebacker, a top 2, top 3, or do you expect that to change throughout a game? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: That will be dependent on game plan honestly, and what we have to defend and what our players can do.
So, you know, right now in camp we’re throwing it all at them, and we’ll start to pare down as we get closer to Game Day.
Q. At this point in training camp, what have you learned about your defense? (Tim McManus)
JONATHAN GANNON: That we have a bunch of good guys, and they care. They really care. It’s a good thing.
Q. How is that rotation between DE Derek Barnett and DE Josh Sweat making them better? Whether it’s an open competition or not, it seems like they’re both at their peak right now; they’re performing very well. (Mike Kaye)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, they’re both playing real well. It’s just like the linebackers. We want those guys playing certain spots with different people. Just like everybody, they’re maximizing their reps, and we’re still figuring out what each of those guys can do.
It’s good to see both of those guys out there playing.
Q. These practices have been shorter than what we’re used to seeing in other training camps. What’s the philosophy of that and how do you make sure you get the work done that you need to get done in the short period of time? (Reuben Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yes, I would say we’re in constant communication with the entire staff. I mean, not just the coaching staff, with the strength staff and with the medical.
Coach Sirianni [Eagles Head Coach Nick Sirianni] really takes the lead with that and he’s preached to those guys everything we do is to get one percent better every day and keep them healthy.
So that plan is put in place, and not to say that it doesn’t adjust day by day, week by week, but we feel good that we’re getting the work that we need to improve our guys out and also keeping them healthy.
Q. Who among the young guys would you say has stood out the most in the first week or so? (Martin Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: You know, out of the rookies, they’re all doing a good job. They really are. I mean, I wouldn’t single a guy out one way or another. They’re all doing a good job improving daily, maximizing reps, putting their head down and working and learning from the vets.
Again, the vets are — I tell those guys they’re an open book as far as go pick that guy’s brain because he knows. He knows.
So I think they’re all doing a really good job.
Q. Zech McPhearson said he studies CB Darius Slay when he is on the sideline. If there is something that Zech McPhearson could take away from Darius’ scheme, what would you want that to be? (Mike Kaye)
JONATHAN GANNON: I would say his confidence. You know, that position out there, it’s a lonely world. We use the analogy they’re on the freeway. I think that one of the best attributes that Slay [CB Darius Slay] has is he plays very confident and has a next-play mentality. I tell our guys all the time: you’re going to get beat at times, but how do you respond and what is your mental self-talk when you get back in the huddle and then lineup again?
That’s where Slay, as he’s performed at a very high level, he has that.